How To Claim Compensation If Your Train Is Delayed In Spain

Public transport in Spain is good value for money, easy to use and efficient. In major cities like Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia you can choose between buses, trams, metro and urban trains. When travelling between cities, you have the choice of long-distance buses or trains.

The Spanish national train company is called RENFE, which stands for Red Nacional de Ferrocarriles Españoles (English: Spanish National Railway Network) and runs trains of different types and classes on an extensive network that radiates out from the major cities.

The flagships of the RENFE fleet are the AVE high-speed trains which can travel at speeds in excess of 300km/h. Once you factor in airport transfer and check-in times, the AVE is often just as fast as flying.

Other long-distance trains are also available, including ALVIA, INTERCITY and TALGO. For shorter distances, regional and middle-distance trains travel more slowly and stop at smaller towns and cities.

Finally, urban and commuter trains have multiple stations within larger cities and connect to surrounding towns.

Passengers alighting from the train at Barcelona airport terminal 2
The train from Barcelona Airport

I’ve used the Spanish train system extensively and have found the trains to be reliable and good value for money. Even the commuter trains, which can be very crowded at peak times, generally run on time and are rarely delayed by more than a few minutes.

In fact, RENFE are so confident that they will get you to your destination on time that they will compensate you if your train is delayed. The quantity refunded varies depending on the type of train and the length of the delay.

In this post, we take a look at how much compensation you are entitled to if your train is delayed in Spain and how to claim a refund.

How much compensation are you entitled to if your train is delayed?

The amount of compensation you can claim when your train is delayed in Spain varies depending on the type of train you are travelling on and how long you are delayed.

Not all delays are eligible for compensation but, generally speaking, as long as the delay was deemed to be the fault of RENFE and you file your claim correctly, you will receive either a full or partial refund or a replacement ticket.

For example, if the delay is caused by a problem with RENFE’s trains or infrastructure, then you are entitled to a refund. On the other hand, if the delay is caused by bad weather or a natural disaster, then RENFE may decide not to give you a refund. Full terms and conditions here.

AVE high speed trains

Length of delayCompensation
More than 15 minutes50%
More than 30 minutes100%

AVLO low-cost high speed trains

Length of delayCompensation
More than 60 minutes50%
More than 90 minutes100%

ALVIA, AV CITY & EUROMED

Length of delayCompensation
More than 30 minutes50%
More than 60 minutes100%

INTERCITY, TALGO & TRENHOTEL

Length of delayCompensation
More than 60 minutes50%
More than 120 minutes100%

AVANT

Length of delayCompensation
More than 15 minutes50%
More than 30 minutes100%

Media Distancia

Length of delayCompensation
More than 15 minutes25%
More than 30 minutes50%
More than 60 minutes100%

Regional Exprés and Regional

Length of delayCompensation
More than 30 minutes25%
More than 45 minutes50%
More than 60 minutes100%

Rodalies de Catalunya

Length of delayCompensation
More than 15 minutesReplacement ticket

How to get a refund for RENFE tickets when your train arrives late

If your train is delayed, you can claim compensation from 24 hours after arrival and up to three months after the date of travel.

AVE, long-distance & middle-distance trains

You can choose to receive your refund in one of the following ways:

  • Refund of the ammount shown above using the same payment method
  • Refund of the ammount shown above +20% as a discound code which can be used to purchase another ticket. Valid for six months.
  • RENFE loyalty program members can receive the ammount shown plus 30% as points. Valid for three years.

If you purchased the ticket online at the RENFE website or want to receive a discount code or loyalty points, you can claim the refund online using this form.

Screenshot of the page from the Spanish train company RENFE's website where you can claim a refund if your train is delayed
The refund form on the RENFE website

If you purchased your ticket at a train station and want to have money reimbursed, you should claim your refund at the station. In this case, if you purchased the ticket in cash, then you will get a cash refund. If you purchased the ticket using a credit or debit card, then RENFE will reimburse the money to the card.

If you purchased your ticket from a travel agent or ticketing website, you should claim your refund from them.

AVLO low-cost high speed trains

Refunds for delayed AVLO trains are only made in the form of vouchers which may be used to purchase AVLO tickets.

You can claim the vouchers online here.

Regional & Regional Exprés

Tickets for Regional and Regional Exprés trains aren’t available online and may only be purchased at the station, either from the ticket office or from ticket vending machines.

As such, the refund may only be claimed at the station using the same payment method as was used for the original purchase (cash or card).

As above, you can claim compensation from 24 hours after the train was due to arrive up until three months after the date of travel.

Rodalies de Catalunya

In Catalonia, RENFE’s regional and commuter train services are operated under the name of Rodalies de Catalunya (Rodalies for short), who offer their own express refund service called Devolució Xpress.

If a Rodalies train arrives more than fifteen minutes late, you are entitled to a replacement ticket for the same route, valid for the subsequent thirty days.

In most cases, you have to claim the Xpress Refund ticket immediately upon arrival at your destination, before leaving the station. If the station is uncrewed, then you have twenty-four hours to claim the refund ticket online here.

Terms and conditions apply. You can find out more here.

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